Whilst predominantly used by long distance traffic this part of the A1 also served as a connection between local villages and towns such as Boroughbridge and Marton-le-Moor and gave access to adjoining properties and fields. Sections of the alignment of the existing road were substandard. Minor accidents were common during busy periods resulting in long traffic queues.
Following the Secretary of State announcement to upgrade to motorway standard it was decided following entry of this section into the road programme in July 1990 to fast track the programme to ensure that early benefits were delivered.
The planning, design and site supervision of the scheme was awarded to Bullen and Partners. The partner in charge was Desmond Scott with Associates Ken Rutter and Fred Shepherd heading the project teams. By March 1992 work had been completed to enable a Public Inquiry to be held, with the Decision Announcement and scheme orders made in the following July. By November of that year CPO's were made and tenders could be invited for construction of the works.
The contract was awarded to the Joint Venture of Alfred McAlpine / Amec and work commenced in May 1993.
This 13 mile long section of dual three lane carriageway runs along the west side of the existing A1 from just north of Walshford to the A168 junction at Dishforth. The new motorway was designed to cope with a traffic flow of some 79,000 vehicles per day, with the existing A1 retained as a local access road both long distance and local drivers benefited from the scheme.
Grade separated interchanges have been provided on the A59 at Allerton and at Aldborough Gate to the south of Boroughbridge, by virtue of the new road being constructed alongside the existing A1 trunk road minimal interference has been caused to traffic.
Having completed the provision of the new A1(M) motorway the joint venture then modified the existing A1 trunk road to a single carriageway local access road, with part of the southbound carriageway retained and realigned where necessary to improve visibility. A number of new road junctions and bridges have been provided to meet modern loading standards.
As for the northbound carriageway, this was broken up, covered with earth mounds, grassed and tree planted to provide a landscaped screen between the two roads.
The roadworks involved some 2.4 million m³ of excavation, 0.75 million m³ of imported fill material and disposal of 1 million m³ of surplus materials. 160,000 metres of pipes and 2,250 manholes and catchpits were required for drainage. Some 525,000 m³ of surfacings were laid.
A total of 35 structures are involved in the motorway works including 9 overbridges. A further 4 bridges have been constructed for local access roads and 12 existing bridges demolished on the existing A1. By virtue of the rural nature of the motorway corridor only 3 dwellings and 3 commercial properties required demolition.
The biggest structure is the new Arrows Bridge carrying the motorway over the River Ure at Boroughbridge. This is a 3 span bridge with a total length of 125 metres. 28,500 m³ of concrete was used in the structures, together with 6,300 tonnes of steel reinforcement. Over 2,000 tonnes of steel was used in beams and piling.
The use of local roads by construction vehicles was minimised by the contractors decision to open borrow pits adjacent to the motorway from which most of the road pavement materials were produced. The pits were subsequently backfilled to the original ground levels with surplus excavated material from the motorway and the areas restored to agricultural use.
Extensive landscaping has been used to blend the new motorway and local access road into the surrounding landscape whilst providing visual separation of the two roads. These measures have also acknowledged the needs of indigenous wildlife and flora to the area. The ecology of the area has benefited from the provision of 40 hectares of new tree and shrub planting. The drainage system for the new motorway was designed to minimise the effects on the existing watercourses by the construction of balancing ponds, which regulate the discharge, and oil interceptors to provide pollution control.
Before construction work started archaeological surveys were carried out initially by geophysical techniques to identify areas of interest and then by excavation in areas where positive signs of historical activity had been identified. In other areas topsoil stripping was carried out in a controlled manner monitored by archaeologists to ensure that further areas for exploration could be investigated before being disturbed by the works.
Excavations revealed both Neolithic and Roman remains the most significant of which was a large Roman Fort clear of the line of the motorway which remained undisturbed.
As part of the Highways Agency's normal practice and to ensure a high level of service to the road user, emergency telephones, matrix signs and traffic counters have been sited at regular intervals throughout the motorway. At Dishforth interchange close Circuit television cameras monitor traffic and electronic variable message signs advise motorists of problems on the A1 and the A19 to the north. Information from the site is transmitted to a Police Control station in Northallerton which operates the matrix and variable message signs.
The Walshford to Dishforth Section was opened in November 1995, only 5 years after the Secretary's announcement of the project, and was the first of the Yorkshire schemes to upgrade the A1 to motorway standard to be completed. This length was to be included in the DBFO scheme for operation and maintenance.
The Opening Ceremony was performed by John Watts MP Minister for Railways and Roads.